An ongoing thread on a messageboard I frequent has brought up thoughts on religion, and mostly I just need somewhere to pour out my brain so that the words are somewhere other than in my head. As I often do, I’ve chosen here.
A long time ago, I separated from religion. Questions on the validity of the beliefs, most likely due to an increasing interest in mathematics and science, caused me to cast doubt on some of the core fundamentals of my upbringing in regards to the church. In my days I have attended a number of church, most often as a guest, but to some of them as a member of the congregation. To those that I belonged, either by my own right or by my parents, they have largely been of the protestant or reformed faiths.
After a number of years of turning my back on all things God related, I came to a realization that it was not God that I doubted or disliked, but the church. It was the organizations, the buildings of wood and stone, and the corporate like hierarchy of their ministers that were the source of my unease. It was then that I came back to God, but not the church.
Another of the major issues that I have with the established religions is in their handbook… you know, the Bible. I feel that far too many of them view the book as the written word of God, as if he inhabitted the bodies of the authors and guided their hands divinely, crafting each word, and in turn possessed the spirits of each translator throughout history to ensure that nothing was lost. And I just don’t think this is so. My personal belief is that the Bible is a collection of historical fact, oral tradition and moral tales written and bound to be used as a guide to emphasis the qualities of that which should be a “good” life. The reason I cannot believe in the Bible as being the absolute word of God is that there are things in there that actually support the idea that God doesn’t care. The Book of Job, for example. God allows Satan to kill Job’s children and their families in order to prove that Job’s faith is absolute. But what about the faith of those children? Am I to believe that God will, on a whim, decide to end my life just to test the faith of someone else? Or to end the lives of others just to test mine? Setting aside that, however, the Book of Job is a good example of maintaining ones principles through hardship, which is a good thing to teach.
The last major issue that I have with the organized religions is that none of them believe what I feel is true. The major tenet of Christianity is the Holy Trinity, the three that are one, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I feel that Christianity has latched onto this idea largely to avoid being a polytheistic religion and to maintain their monotheistic outlook on spirituality, to avoid Jesus worship spinning off a sect away from God worship. They force Jesus and God to be the same so that worshipping one is worshipping the other and vice versa. While I can fully grasp the idea that you could have multiple aspects of a single being be the same whole being, my problem is that if God and Jesus are the same, then the sacrifice of Jesus means nothing. If God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, and Jesus is God, then Jesus is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. The moment he “died”, he would be release from any mortal constraints and be God again. His descending into hell holds no meaning because he is omnipotent, snaps his fingers and he’s out. If, however, you believe only so far as that Jesus is the mortal son of God (with the ability to perform miracles), then the sacrifice takes on a whole new light… what Jesus says as they crucify him becomes half a conversation. God says to Jesus, and no one else can hear, “Son, I can smite them. I can wipe the earth clean and start again like I did before. I can save you this pain. Just say the word and it will be done.” To which Jesus relies aloud, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” All the sudden, Jesus’s sacrifice means everything. He gives his mortal life in order to stay God’s hand, because in us, the flawed creation of God, he sees hope, he sees the ability of us to overcome what we do in ignorance. And then, knowing that by the rules of his own universe that he created Jesus will descend into hell and he won’t be able to help, God lets his son die, and forgives us. That has weight and meaning.
In the end though, the sum of my beliefs can be found here: “I believe in God, and God believes in me, and that’s enough.” With so many religions out there with such core difference in their worship and their organization, this has to be true, because its about the only thing they all hold in common. And if its wrong, that’s alot of people going to hell because God won’t just come out and tell us the truth. Unless God enjoys people killing each other under his various pseudonyms… If I were God, that would make me angry, and I would make them stop. Just show up and say, “Hi, I’m God. These guys are half right, and these guys are about a quarter right, and those guys over there are insane, but be nice to them anyway. Now shut up and build spaceships already, I didn’t create infinity for you just to have a twinkling sky at night.”